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Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana: analysis

Amir Khan Marcos Rene MaidanaBy Daniel Ciminera: After having briefly mentioned this fight in a previous article when I had only had 24 hours to mull it over, I have now been away, watched the tapes, talked it over with friends and also ran over it a million times in my head. I have reached a conclusion of sorts and the only thing which will alter my train of thought will depend on which of each Khan and Maidana show up on the night. Maidana the ruthless assassin. Show off, cocky Khan. Two punch pony Maidana. Roach’s Khan. All could deviate the fight from what I think will happen.

People are going to lay into me for saying this, and I am going to be called all sorts. However, as I will always speak my mind, I believe Amir Khan is going to win this fight and win it convincingly. As I said already, there are a tonne of things which could go differently from how I see it but, this IS how I see it.

I don’t feel Maidana hasn’t peaked yet. He is very sloppy at times, very easy to hit, especially when coming forward and appears to have no outside game whatsoever. He is then, an unfinished article. He fought his way to the top, earned a title shot versus Andreas Kotelnik and was exposed as a pretty one dimensional fighter at the very top level. Maidana then fought Vicious Victor Ortiz in a thrilling bout which saw four knock downs inside the first two rounds (three of which saw Maidana on the canvas) before Maidana hurt Ortiz badly at the end of the 5th round and looked set to take him out when the fight was stopped due to a cut above the right eye of Ortiz, who also had very severe swelling to his left eye from the previous round’s final exchange.

This is not to say he is hopeless, or that he doesn’t have a chance against Khan, because he most certainly does. What Maidana does, he does very well, he just needs probably a better trainer to add to the spectrum of tools he possesses. For his size, he is remarkably strong, he throws punches with immense ferocity and accuracy at times and when he smells a victory, he is relentless. I believe we were about to witness this in his bout against Victor Ortiz before the fight was stopped. And the straight right hand Maidana landed in the closing seconds of the fifth round would have stopped almost anyone in the division(if you haven’t seen the punch, go watch the fight back, it was one of the best punches in recent years in my opinion). It most certainly would have at the very least made Khan look like a baby giraffe trying to find it’s feet for the first time, or more likely, turned his lights off for the remainder of the evening.

One thing Maidana did do very well against Kotelnik, was cut the ring off. He came forward and backed him up all night long, which he will have to do even more proficiently against Khan. I mentioned earlier that Kotelnik had exposed him as a one dimensional fighter, this is because in the Kotelnik fight, he did not get his own way, he was not able to bully the Ukrainian, who has never been on the canvas, into throwing wild counter shots at him. Kotelnik, who is not the most exciting or ferocious boxer when on the attack, also managed to back up Maidana pretty successfully whenever he engaged him, frequently hitting him, especially with the overhand right. This is a weapon which appears to be quite a problem for Maidana as all his opponents that I have seen, have used it against him time and again. Even William Gonzalez, who appeared to have nothing to offer aside from slow, telegraphed punches, used this effectively against Maidana in the opening rounds before being dispatched in the third.

When comparing Khan and Maidana, Kotelnik is an invaluable resource since they have both fought him recently. Khan however did much better against a far busier Kotelnik, who did on several occasions, get into the fight and land with good clean shots, which to the amazement of many(including myself), Khan took in his stride, throwing his own shots back in reply and never seemed even mildly hurt by them. For me, Khan’s willingness to cover up and fight from the outside, utilising his jab and fast flurries to score points was the key to beating Kotelnik. Maidana was not capable of this and just threw his usual right hook lead followed by attempted left uppercuts over and over again any time he got Kotelnik to back up a little, hardly ever breaking through I may add.

To a certain extent, what Kotelnik did against Maidana was a more polished version of what Super-Middleweight punchbag, Daniel Carriqueo, the only other man to go the distance with Maidana, did early on in his career in a six-rounder. Keeping his guard up and absorbing a lot of the punches with his gloves, while moving in and out and using counter punches effectively. One key area Carriqueo exploited was Maidana’s own guard, which is very loose with pretty wide arms. There were occasions where Carriqueo was able to land multiple uppercuts through the wide guard, and at one point I believe I counted five consecutive right uppercuts without reply.

If Khan can employ similar tactics against Maidana, he will win. The problem is, all too often, Maidana manages to draw his opponents into slugging matches where his superior power comes out on top. Khan needs to be very very careful of this, as earlier in his career he had the tendency to lose his head a bit and get involved in that type of fight. But, with a suspect chin and a new, higher class of opponent, Khan will be punished for such machismo, and at this stage of his career he really could do with not being knocked out again just yet. Though in Khan’s defence, he does possess far greater hand speed than Maidana, or anyone else Maidana has ever faced, so perhaps if he does get caught up on occasion, he can use his speed to punch his way out before Maidana lets go with that short, straight right hand. Khan will also find that his speed allows him to almost hit Maidana at will throughout the bout, though not getting carried away and leaving himself open to counter will be key.

The main concern for people thinking about Khan’s ability to win, will be his defence and more importantly his “chin”, or punch resistance. While I have even said myself in the past that you cant train a fighter to withstand bigger punches, I believe since training with Roach, Khan’s resistance has been improved, and to a greater extent, so has his defence. This was evident against Barrera and Kotelnik, who both hit him with good clean shots on occasion, but Khan managed to shrug them off and go on to win and while they did both manage to hit him cleanly, the instances were not often enough to cause worry. Maidana’s power is greater than the past his prime Barrera and certainly Kotelnik’s however, I firmly believe Khan’s defence has improved such that Maidana’s limited attack won’t be able to break him down and Khan’s lightning foot speed will likely mean Maidana will find it very difficult to land anything but glancing blows for the most part. Though as I said before, if he lands with a shot like the one he caught Ortiz with, it is lights out Amir Khan for sure.

Personally, I am relishing the prospect of this bout and can not wait until it is set in stone and upon us because regardless of if I have called it right or wrong here, it promises fireworks, drama, knock downs, explosive action and most likely, in my opinion, a middle rounds knock-out win for Amir Khan.

I don’t have a favourite of the two so whoever wins will be fine by me, though from here on in, things only get more difficult for both these fighters. The light-welterweight division, along with the light-heavyweights will probably be the most exciting division in the coming decade with so much talent having just risen to the top, or about to break through to greatness. You have both Khan and Maidana, then you have the likes of Timothy Bradley who still has many years ahead of him and hasn’t quite been given the legacy-building fights he is so desperate for yet, though they are just around the corner. Then there is unbeaten American youngster Devon Alexander who is destined for greatness, Lamont Peterson, Victor Cayo, Paul McCloskey, Juan Urango, Paulie Malignaggi, Mike Alvarado another unbeaten American, are all going to be around for many years to come and hold so much promise. Then you have the older heads like Casamayor, Holt, Diaz, and Hatton have something to offer in the first part of the coming decade. These are just the natural light-welterweights too, without the crossover fighters like Marquez from the lightweight and welterweight divisions! There are just too many overwhelmingly exciting prospective battles in that list that I can’t even begin to articulate my expectations.

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